The Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Controversy

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As I have said, I do not want to go through each vitamin and mineral individually, as I feel this serves no purpose, and there are plenty of books available if you want to find out more. Literature is available as to the amount of certain nutrients you may need, but if you are eating a healthy balanced diet, as discussed in Chapter 1, then, in most cases, you'll be okay. If you feel you may be consuming inadequate amounts consult an appropriately qualified practitioner, such as a dietitian; please contact me through, and I may be able to help.

The issue as to whether individuals need vitamin and mineral supplements is a big one. Most alternative practitioners and nutrition therapists will claim that you do need supplements for 'optimum' health. Bodybuilders will also say they are needed, just to make sure you're getting enough. When I am referring to 'supplements' in this section, please note that I am referring to vitamin and mineral supplement preparations.

There has been loads of scientific research into this debate, to see if supplementation over and above normal nutrition is required in order to reduce risk of disease and/or maximise performance. In some cases the research is conclusive and supplements are recommended, e.g. folic acid in pregnancy to reduce the risk of spina bifida in the child. Generally, it is certain subgroups of the population that do have a use for supplements.

Bodybuilders are traditionalists for megadosing, without any real reason for doing it. Certain vitamins can have harmful side effects if taken in too large quantities. Vitamin C is frequently megadosed on, but are you aware that too much for long a period can cause a type of kidney stone? As vitamin C is water soluble, people have the misconception that you cannot take too much - WRONG!

Some other examples, to name but a few (DoH 1991): There have been cases of death from too much vitamin A; rare, but there are many reports of hair loss, liver and bone damage. Excess thiamine (vitamin B1) can cause headaches and irritability. Over intakes of vitamin D can cause too high blood calcium levels, potentially causing muscle spasms. Too much sodium raises blood pressure. Megadoses of iron can be lethal, especially in children, as iron levels are only controlled by what you eat, absorbed and what comes out when you bleed. Zinc in high amounts can cause nausea and vomiting. There are many cases of excess iodine intake causing goitre (an enlarged thyroid gland, making the neck swell up) and hyperthyroidism, i.e. a racing metabolism. Too much fluoride can cause tooth and nail crumbling. I could go on...

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